Ch XIV

It absolutely appalled me. Every single folding chair was full. Alice had outdone herself, even in such dreadful circumstances. Black crepe hung artistically from every tree, a screen was suspended directly behind a podium, and a rose petal-ed walkway separated two sides of seating. Up front, diagonally flanking the now empty podium were two benches, one to the left seating Edward and Alice, one to the right, seating Renee and Charlie. The rest of the Cullen's and Phil made up the first row on the right side; Angela, Mike, Jessica, and Tyler made up the left. Every remaining inch was covered with gorgeous flowers: lilies, irises, and freesia.

Despite all this, perched on a tree branch looking down, the meadow looked sick, like every blade of grass had some disease, covered in black, slick with rain, dull from the dark gray sky. With all those people crowded on folding chairs, the meadow didn't look quite right. But then again, why should it? All these people were here for me, and yet I was supposed to be dead. And what was worse than the fact that I happened to be alive, sitting right above them, was the fact that I could hear each and every one of their thoughts. It was overwhelming.

I "heard" rather than saw Edward shift silently in his seat to make sure I was doing okay. Since he, of course, had the super vision that all vampires possessed, he could see me through the trees, and was somewhat reassured to still find me sitting on, a branch, perched above the unsuspecting crowd. I shifted my focus from his brilliant eyes, because just then, the noise level dropped drastically. Looking around for the cause, I noticed that the projector had started a movie of sorts; pictures of me as a baby, me in my ballet outfit, me cutting the cake at my twelfth birthday dinner, a silent clip of Renee and me running through a sprinkler, of me tripping over the hose attached, of Renee bringing me to the hospital, all set to a familiar melody. I closed my eyes tightly, trying to block out the images, but that only brought out the sadness of my friends' voices. Angela's overpowered everyone's at first.

"Poor Bella, poor sweet Bella," her mind cried. "I'm going to miss her so much. But nothing, I imagine, like Edward will. Look at him, I've never seen him so emotional, not in all the time I've known him. Their relationship must have blossomed in the short time they were together. He looks so…so…distraught. And her parents, her poor, poor…" I moved on to Jessica's mind.

"Bella is dead…Bella's dead. It just doesn't make any sense at all. She's gone. She's not here anymore. Bella's dead." She said over and over again to herself. Mike's "voice" began to grow louder, until it was all I could hear. It screamed in my mind.

"It's unfair, completely, utterly, unfair. It's like now that you're gone, the sun has been permanently ripped out of the sky. I never even got to hold your hand, never got to tell you how much you meant to me. Now I'll never have the chance to. Bella, why the hell are you leaving me like this? Look how upset you've made us all; look at me blubbering like a baby, look at goddamn Cullen. I think you're the only one in the whole goddamn world who actually made him show an ounce of emotion…"

I stopped listening; I couldn't do it. It was enough to look at them, with their tear-filled eyes and red faces. Look what I've done, I thought, just look at the hurt sitting blatantly sitting on their faces. It was hard to understand too. I just could not comprehend why so many so many people would feel remorse over losing me, Bella Swan, someone so completely ordinary. I was in Forks for less than a year, barely went out, and yet there everyone sat.

And then it just didn't matter anymore. White hot anger and regret coursed through me, and I felt the urge to run and run, and just keep running; away from the path of destruction I caused, away from the hurt I left behind, away from the monster I'd become, away from everything.

I pushed myself off of the branch and landed on the ground with a soft thud, that I'm sure alerted my vampire family to my departure. Still, I fled, running blindly, till I reached the river and threw myself in. Eyes closed, face down, I lay there pretending I was actually dead; my black dress swaying with the current around me. And yet, I could still hear the tears, each solid "thunk" of water hitting the damp earth. The sound shook in my head like my own private earthquake; it wouldn't stop. I forced out what little air I had left in my lungs, making the water ripple. Though soundless, my scream lasted a very long time, water quaking uninterruptedly, until all I could hear was silence coming from the meadow, ringing in my ears. Then softly, "Bella?" Imploringly, the voice called out a little louder, "Bella?" Louder and louder; more frantic each time, till the voice was right there on top of me, covering me like a blanket.